“I want to call in sick every day.” “I don’t get paid enough for this.” “I feel like I’m going nowhere.” If it sounds like I’ve been stalking you, you’re probably considering a career change. Whether you’re a twenty-something or a bit more mature, a stressful or monotonous job can make changing careers seem extremely enticing. Before you fire off a resignation letter though, ask yourself the following questions. It may just save you from making a costly mistake!
1. Will my problems still be an issue if I work somewhere else?
What is causing you angst? Is it rude colleagues? The distance between home and work? The lack of work-life balance? Job security? Difficult clients? Make a list of all the reasons why you want to leave your current job. Then work out whether or not these issues are still likely to occur if you worked elsewhere, within your profession.
If your issues are personal, such as your dislike for your colleagues and what you are doing, you need to improve your current situation before you do anything else. If you don’t, you could bring any unresolved issues to a new job or a new career and find the same problems recurring. What a waste of time! Try to repair broken relationships, build more respect and improve your skills. Running away never helps in the long run. Doing the hard work will help you to grow.
If distance is one of your main problems, a job closer to home could be the answer. No career change necessary! Lack of work-life balance, however, could be a trickier problem. While choosing a different career may solve this, it’s important to consider other factors, like the Economy. Unfortunately, because of the Economy, businesses have had to make job cuts, forcing the workers left behind to take on more responsibility. Unless you plan to transition into a booming industry, a career change is unlikely to solve this problem. Realistically, what can and can’t you change? For smaller issues, a new working environment may resolve things.
2. What do I dream of doing?
Take some time to analyse your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses. What are you passionate about and what are you good at? As children, we knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up. We wanted to be a vet because we loved dogs or we aspired to invent a life-changing invention because we just wanted to make the world better! What happened? Somewhere along the way, we started to doubt ourselves, found out the job didn’t pay very well, or maybe we didn’t get the marks we needed to make it happen. While achieving your dream career may still have its challenges, if your values are not being met in your current career, you aren’t going to be happy. Is it possible to make a compromise where you can enjoy what you do, but still earn enough to pay your bills? Write down what you value and potential career paths that correlate with these values. You may find that your dream job is slightly different than expected.
3. What would a new career offer?
After addressing your passions, skills, values and potential careers, consider what each career has to offer, compared to what you currently have. Yes, a freelance job could offer you more freedom, but will it be as financially stable? What prospects would you gain in your current industry if you were to upskill and shadow someone to gain experience in a higher role, compared to the prospects you’d have in a completely different career. Do they compare? Weigh everything up. Work out and write down what you really want and where you want to go. Changing careers is a big decision, so it’s worth making a thorough plan.
4. What can I expect from starting a new career?
Before you do anything else, do your research! Is your potential new job in demand? How is this industry currently performing? Will this job still be around in 10 years’ time? What jobs are on the rise? What will the future look like? I know that it’s impossible to fully predict the future, but we can all agree that automation will only increase, reducing the number of jobs in certain industries. The Guardian recently evaluated the least and most safe jobs.
There are a number of other considerations you should make. Firstly, what is the entry level wage for your potential career? Are you willing to start at the bottom of the ladder again? Can you survive on this wage? Secondly, find out what qualifications you need for a new career. Also find out what skills and talents you have and what you will need to develop to succeed. Thirdly, what will you have to do for a smooth career transition? Do some research and if possible, seek help from a professional career advisor. Next, consider how you are going to gain experience in your potential career. Could you volunteer or do some freelance/self-employed work on the side while you’re still getting your regular income? It would also be a good idea to speak to someone you know who already works in your potential industry. They can give you some great insights into what the industry is really like, before you spend time and money trying to get in to it. Overall, ask yourself, are the risks of starting a new career worth the benefits it may bring?
5. Do I have enough money to change careers?
As much as we like to believe that we are amazing, hardworking people, (and I’m sure that’s probably true) it’s an employer’s market, so you may still struggle to find a job, particularly in a new career. Since 2008, employers have had all the power, so not only are they seeking employees in a way that suits them – through people they know, someone a colleague knows, through an Agency, or LinkedIn – they are less likely to take risks by employing people with minimal or no experience. Unfortunately, transferable skills alone just won’t cut it. Employers are no longer short of applicants, so they are going to pick the best candidate, and that’s usually the person with the most experience.
Scary statistic: Only 29.6 % of unemployed Americans gain employment within 3 months, while 17-30% spend more than a year looking for work. While this may not be the case in every country, experts around the world agree that it is more difficult to get a job now than it was between 1994 and 2007. If you want to change careers, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that it may take longer than you think to get a job. Have you saved enough money to cushion you for potentially 12 months while you job-hunt? If not, maybe a career change isn’t an option right now. Try to change your mindset or how you approach your work, colleagues, and how you care for yourself to make your current working situation better.
6. Am I prepared for rejection?
For every “yes”, there are a thousand “no’s”. This is a metaphor, but it’s not far off reality. Are you prepared to lose a bit of ego, put in the hard work and get more rejections than a spotty teen whose voice hasn’t broken yet? Making a career change is going to take time, effort, money and commitment. It won’t happen overnight. Prepare yourself for rejection. Try not to take it personally. I know that’s easier said than done, but employers are simply looking for the candidate who will easily fit in and who poses less risk (see #5). If possible, always seek feedback when you receive rejection and use it to make your next application better. You will need to keep trying. Eventually you’ll get a “yes”, but if you give up, you’ll never reach your destination and may end up back in your old career. Are you prepared to do this? Only you can decide.
Making a career change is a big decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. If you’re thinking about making a career change, consider whether your current issues will follow you to a new industry, take some time to dream, weigh up what a new career would offer, do your research on the career your have in mind, consider the financial implications of changing careers, and finally mull over the strength of your resilience. In some cases, a change of job within your industry could be the solution. In others, a career change is the answer. Only you can decide.
What are your thoughts on changing careers? Have these questions helped? Let me know your biggest take away from this article in the comments below. If you like this or know someone who might appreciate this article, share it! For more advice, I post regularly to Instagram and Pinterest, so follow me there. Subscribe to empoweredmillennialgirl.com to receive new posts every week by email.